Katherine Rumsey, Abby Jacobi and Alyssa Green all went to different middle schools, but became fast friends their freshman cross-country season at Columbus North.
Three years later, the trio is an integral part of a Bull Dog girls team that is ranked No. 1 in the state and the favorite to bring home a title Saturday in Terre Haute.
“Those three were the freshmen when I started, so when we first started coaching here, that was our group, and the transition really was them,” North girls coach Rick Sluder said. “Older girls like Olivia Morlok and Kennedy Kerber helped bridge that gap. Those three (Rumsey, Jacobi and Green) are the three that kept the work ethic going, they kept all the team traditions going, they kept the spirit alive. All that stuff was because of that group.”
Rumsey, who went to Central Middle School, came into the North program as a newcomer to the traditions. Jacobi, who ran at St. Peter’s knew a little. Green, who ran at Northside, knew a lot because her brother Zach ran for the Bull Dogs.
“It was fun because we had a clean slate, somebody who knew a little bit and somebody who could bridge that gap from coach (Rick) Weinhemier’s era, and those three have really pulled us through,” Sluder said. “We aren’t here today if those three don’t have the work ethic and pick up on everything from their freshman year.”
Jacobi, who ran in Lutheran School National Championships while at St. Peter’s, has the most varsity experience of the senior trio. She will be competing in her third state cross-country meet on Saturday and her fourth state meet overall, having also competed in last year’s Gymnastics State Finals.
“I think being at state before and having the expectation to go out and just see how far we can get is definitely going to help me,” Jacobi said. “Leaving it all out there is something that I learned last year, so I think that will help this year, just knowing that this is my last chance to go out and make my mark.”
Rumsey will be running in her first state cross-country meet after being the Bull Dogs’ No. 8 runner, the first alternate, last year. She did, however, make it to state in the 3,200 meters in track last spring.
“Last year was definitely one of those bittersweet moments where you’re really happy for the team, but you also wish it was you up there,” Rumsey said. “But this year, I’m super excited to have two of the other seniors and my closest friends on the postseason roster and getting to race alongside them at state. It will just be a great way to end my senior year.”
This will be Green’s first state meet in any sport.
“It’s been pretty enjoyable,” Green said. “I think we’re really close this year. We’ve bonded really well with our team camps and everything. I feel like we’re as strong and as close as ever, so I’m happy to be on this top seven this year.”
While North has been led on the course by three juniors this season, the three seniors have been constants in the Bull Dogs’ top seven. In Saturday’s Brown County Semistate, they were the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 runners, all in personal-best times less than four seconds apart.
“My favorite part and what I am most proud of was how close our 3 through 6 were,” Rumsey said. “It was fun to cross the finish line and know that we were all right there together and doing it as a team.”
“That close gap is something that will really help us (this) week,” Jacobi added. “It was just really nice to know your teammates are right there beside you and run with them and race with them and have that camaraderie.”
North has been ranked No. 1 since beating Carmel to end the regular season in the Nike Valley Twilight on the same LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course that hosts the state meet. The Greyhounds now are ranked No. 3 behind No. 2 Floyd Central, which the Bull Dogs beat by 31 points in Saturday’s semistate.
“It’s not going to be easy to run state,” Green said. “We’re still going to push as hard as we can. It’s not going to just come natural to us. We all have to put some type of effort into it when we run.”
“I think we have a good chance,” Rumsey added. “It’s all going to come down to each of us giving it our all on that given day. As long as we give it our all and push each other as a team and keep looking to that next person in front of us, we’re going to be satisfied with whatever happens.”